Utah’s rise has been phenomenal.
The Utah Jazz defeated the Indiana Pacers 132-105 in the 2023-2024 NBA regular season on Saturday night at Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
The win was Utah’s sixth straight and moved them into ninth place in the Western Conference. The Utes are a dominant 9-1 in their last 10 games. The Utes are the only team in the NBA to win nine of their last 10 games. They’ve won every game except for a loss to the 카지노사이트 Boston Celtics, who are currently the best team in the NBA.
The reason why Utah’s rise has been so surprising is because they didn’t prepare for this season as a winnow. Before the start of the 2022-2023 season, the Utes declared they were rebuilding and traded away franchise stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert.
Last season, Utah won 37 games and finished 12th in the Western Conference with 45 wins. The only bright spots were the performances of Lauri Markkanen and Walker Kessler, who were acquired in exchange for Mitchell and Gobert.
Utah didn’t do much to add to its roster last summer either. With the ninth overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, they selected Taylor Hendricks, a forward who needs to be developed over time rather than an immediate force, and they didn’t do much in free agency. The only major addition was the trade of John Collins from the Atlanta Hawks for virtually nothing.
In other words, Utah has emerged as a dark horse in the Western Conference with no real reinforcements.
At the center of it all is Makanen. Makanen came into his own with the Utes last season, and he’s been tremendous this season. Makanen is averaging 24 points and 8.8 rebounds per game this season and has been playing at an All-Star level. He was recently named Western Conference Player of the Week for his performance.
Makanen is a stretch forward with a knack for the three-point shot, but in Utah, he’s developed into an inside-outside scorer who is also active on the perimeter. Makanen’s presence in Utah is absolutely essential.
Add to that the veteran presence of Jordan Clarkson, Kelly Olynyk, and Collin Sexton. Clarkson and Sexton are similar in type: short guards and scorers. They assist Makanen and add to Utah’s offense. Olinic is a stretch big man with a high BQ who uses his high BQ to lubricate the team on offense and defense.
The relatively weak defense is anchored by second-year big man Kessler. Despite averaging less than 24 minutes per game this season, Kessler is third in the NBA with 2.6 blocks per game.
This is how the Utes have been able to do so well with a relatively mediocre roster thanks to their solid role distribution.
For this reason, the spotlight is inevitably on Utah head coach Will Hardy. Hardy, who got his first taste of head coaching last season with the Utes, has done an incredible job.
After coaching the San Antonio Spurs under Gregg Popovich and a brief stint with the Boston Celtics, Hardy was hired by the Utes. Hardy has been rumored to be a talented recruiter since his days as a coach. Popovich was thrilled to see his former student take over as head coach.
Hardy is a young coach, born in 1988, who has done a great job with a young Utah squad. His offensive and defensive tactics are excellent. He took Makanen, who was treated like a second-class citizen by the Cleveland Cavaliers, and turned him into an All-Star caliber forward, and he used the rookie Kessler to bring the drop-back defense to Utah.
Most commendably, he’s done a great job of blending veterans and young players. The Utes were a rebuilding team, but they didn’t diminish the importance of veterans like Oladipo and Clarkson, but utilized them at the right time. That’s why Hardy is Utah’s hidden ace in the hole.
Just two seasons after letting Mitchell and Gobert go, the Utes are challenging for a playoff spot. The only question is how far the Utes will go in their ascension.